I was doing an interview for the Chicago Tribune recently regarding Churches Helping Churches. The interviewer asked me if I observed in people a ‘compassion fatigue?’ As it was discussed, I learned that she meant the condition of caring so much about so many things that you are dulled in your capacity to care at all. Kind of like the guy who watches so many sports on so many channels for so much time that when the Super Bowl comes he can’t even get excited about it.
The Word of God, the Son of God, the people of God, and the lost are the summa cum laude’s of care. We must never become fatigued in our compassion for these eternal priorities. To make sure I don’t, here are some things I’m learning not to care about.
1) I don’t care about criticism from people I don’t know. Criticism is helpful and good and I have benefited greatly from it, but hardly ever from a stranger. People close to me give helpful criticism. People I know who differ from me, but who I am in relationship with help me see what those too close might miss. But I just don’t care about grenades thrown by folks I’ve never met and who am not in community with. I could care; I could get wrapped up in responding to every attempt to detonate, but I just can’t waste my caring on that, there are many other more important things to care about.
2) I don’t care about people who appear to be doing it wrong. I don’t agree with everything I see other Christian leaders doing. I think some of it is even hurtful to the cause of Christ. If I know them, I may discuss it with them when I see them, but in view of the fact that I don’t accept grenades from outsiders, I think it would be hypocritical to spend time launching them. “The Lord knows those that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19), and “Who are you to judge the servant of another? It is before his own master that He stands or falls, and he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4; see also 1 Corinthians 3).
3) I don’t care about the past. I am thankful for the past. I have learned a lot from the past. But I have seen that the past can become a quicksand that keeps you sinking and away from the good future God wants to give based upon what we have learned. Recently, Kathy and I declared a 90-day moratorium on talking about the past. No discussing past people, or past hurts, or past problems, or past anything. Lessons learned, problems solved, people forgiven, and on into the future. I just don’t have enough bandwidth to spend time caring about the past. Let’s forgive each other in view of what Christ has done for us and move on!
4) I don’t care about minor issues of doctrinal or methodological difference. I was at a convention of biblical counselors recently pleading with them to get on the same page and get the good news about biblical counseling out to the body of Christ where people are floundering in secular/unbiblical models that miss the blessing of God. I just don’t understand the person who is so concerned about everyone doing it perfectly that they just don’t get many people doing it at all. As in “only I can make a Big Mac, no one else can do it perfectly, no franchises, no distribution, just me in the kitchen making perfect ones myself.” I have been saying for years, based upon Ephesians 4:1-7, “On the majors conviction, on the minors tolerance, in all things love.” We can’t be afraid to stand for the truth on the major issues. And on the minor issues we can’t be afraid to say, “That is a matter of smaller importance and it’s just not worth caring about.”
5) I don’t care about being well known. I am not sure why, but I have had several well-connected people tell me lately that Harvest is a ‘best kept secret.’ They tell me that a ministry making a difference as we are and planting churches, and impacting lives around the world should be ‘more well known than it is.’ Ummmm, I don’t care. I am focusing on the depth of my ministry. If God wants what we are learning to bless others, He will get the message out further. Psalm 75 says, “Promotion does not come from the east or the west; God is the judge who sets up one and puts down another.” I just don’t care about being famous or well known. Maybe God knows I couldn’t handle it, and I can’t waste my limited caring on such silliness.
I’m working on holy indifference to things that don’t deserve my ‘caring,’ and passionate pursuit of those priorities that bring us joy and bless the heart of God. Leave your comments – here – I will read them all, but I might not care. 🙂